"The use case that caught our attention was people just hanging out on live, particularly young people. After school, they jump on a live-stream and hang out. That use of live [video] is particularly interesting to us."
Sarkar was likely referring to the popularity of group streaming apps like Houseparty, which raced to 20 million users by facilitating this use-case. Facebook has sought to tap into the same through several measures – the aforementioned Instagram Live, group video calls on Facebook Messenger, even their own group streaming app, called Bonfire, which is currently only available in certain regions.
As explained by Instagram:
“More than 100 million Instagrammers watch or share on Live every day, but we’ve heard from our community that sometimes they also want to experience real-time video in a smaller group. In the coming weeks, we’ll bring video chat to Instagram and give friends a new way to spend time together - even when they aren’t actually together.”
To start a video chat, users will tap on the new camera icon at the top of any direct messaging thread (you can see it in the right-hand side image above). Through this, you’ll be able to video chat one-on-one, or with a small group, with no limitations on how long a stream can go for. There’s also an option to minimize the video and continue your video chat while you look through your Instagram feed.
As noted, users have already had some capacity to engage via live video guests, but that’s currently limited to only two participants at a time, and is also shared via your Instagram Story (unless you’ve chosen to keep it private).
This new tool aims to provide more ways for Instagram users to maintain more intimate connection within the app – which makes sense, given that Instagram’s own research shows despite almost half of all Instagram users now also using DMs (375 million), 85% of those messages go to the same three friends, as opposed to being a broad-ranging communications tool.
Combining the rising popularity of video content with the messaging trend makes sense for enhanced platform usage, and no doubt the new option will prove popular.
Instagram’s new video chat option is in testing now, and will be rolled out globally in the near future.